Column: Penultimate Weekend Takes World Of Outlaws Sprints To Lawton & Devil’s Bowl

Column By: BRIAN WALKER / WORLD OF OUTLAWS – LAWTON, OK – The road to Charlotte is almost over, but two more stops remain before officially concluding the 2021 World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series season at the NGK/NTK World Finals on November 4-6.

Oklahoma’s Lawton Speedway and Texas’ Devil’s Bowl Speedway highlight this weekend’s slate as The Greatest Show on Dirt continues the 80-race grind.

A combination of 13 full-time Outlaws, several top-tier invaders, and a contingent of local talent will make up the stout fields on Halloween weekend.

Let’s look at some of the top storylines to follow:

ON THE PROWL: If all goes right this weekend, Brad Sweet and Kasey Kahne Racing could clinch their third consecutive World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series championship. The Big Cat enters the doubleheader in front of David Gravel by 98 points and will essentially seal the deal if he exits with a 96-point advantage.

The points system pays out 150 points to the winner, 146 points for second, and then drops by two points per position until 24th on back earns 102 points. With Sweet’s stash of provisionals, a 98-point margin would seal the deal entering next week’s NGK/NTK World Finals at The Dirt Track at Charlotte.

The good news for fans of the Grass Valley, CA native is he thrives at both venues on the slate this weekend. His only appearance at Lawton Speedway resulted in a second-place effort last year, and he’s a former winner at Devil’s Bowl. If he gets the job done, Sweet will join legends Steve Kinser and Donny Schatz as the only drivers to three-peat in 44 seasons of World of Outlaws history.

SCHATZ SURGING: Since the Knoxville Nationals, nobody on the World of Outlaws tour has been more consistent than Donny Schatz and the Tony Stewart/Curb-Agajanian Racing #15 team. With an average finish of 4.0, the 10-time Series champion is far and away ahead of his next closest competitors including David Gravel (6.25), Brad Sweet (6.55), and Logan Schuchart (6.85).

Last weekend the Fargo, ND native passed Carson Macedo for the third spot in the championship standings and still has an outside chance at David Gravel for the second spot. He’s -60 points behind Gravel with four races remaining and a $40,000 difference in the points fund separating second place’s $100,000 check and third place’s $60,000 payday.

20,000 REASONS: Saturday’s Texas Outlaw Nationals at Devil’s Bowl marks the 13th event of the season paying $20,000 or more to the winner. Through the previous 12 events of such magnitude, only Kyle Larson ($176,000 at Knoxville, $175,000 at Eldora) and Carson Macedo ($75,000 at Williams Grove, $25,000 at Skagit, $21,000 at Keller Auto) have topped multiple shows.

Another seven drivers including Tyler Courtney ($175,000 at Eldora), Logan Schuchart ($50,000 at Jackson), Aaron Reutzel ($30,000 at Huset’s), David Gravel ($25,000 at Bristol), Brad Sweet ($25,000 at Lernerville), Brent Marks ($20,000 at Williams Grove), and Sheldon Haudenschild ($20,000 at I-55) also have high-payday wins.

OOOOKLAHOMA: For almost 40 seasons, the Outlaws in Oklahoma has been a yearly tradition. A wide-ranging variety of seven different “Sooner State” tracks have graced the schedule and this Friday night, Lawton Speedway will join State Fair Speedway and Tulsa Speedway as the only three tracks to hold 10+ races.

Owasso, OK’s own Daryn Pittman is the most recent winner in his home state, topping last year’s long-awaited Lawton return over Brad Sweet & David Gravel. When it comes to other Outlaw winners through 87 races in Oklahoma, only Donny Schatz, Kerry Madsen, and Brad Sweet are among the active crop to win within state lines.

A handful of local Oklahoma natives are expected to compete in Friday’s Feature, including Noah Gass of Mounds, OK, who has attended a career-high 23 events with The Greatest Show on Dirt this year.

WHERE IT ALL STARTED: Devil’s Bowl Speedway in Mesquite, TX is forever the birthplace of the World of Outlaws. The date was March 18, 1978, and Ted Johnson was the man who brought The Greatest Show on Dirt to life. An all-star cast of drivers was led by winner Jimmy Boyd, then Doug Wolfgang, and Tom Corbin.

Sure, 43 years have passed since that spring night in the heart of Texas, but the World of Outlaws and Devil’s Bowl Speedway still shine brightly in 2021. Saturday’s stop at the 1/2-mile is the 89th all-time event at the track with Sammy Swindell (18 wins) and Steve Kinser (16 wins) sticking out above the rest.

HOT SAUCE: 19-year-old Giovanni Scelzi of Fresno, CA will enter this weekend as the most recent winner with The Greatest Show on Dirt. Using a late-race restart at Lakeside Speedway on Friday night, the young superstar stormed by veteran Kerry Madsen and stole his first win of the year and third of his career with the Series.

It marked his first World of Outlaws win driving for Iowa-based KCP Racing and the team’s first win in Outlaw action in more than two years. The victory also came during Dylan Buswell’s first night as the new crew chief on the #18 after already earning four Series wins earlier this year while working for Roth Motorsports and Aaron Reutzel.

Although not a platinum member, Scelzi and KCP have competed with the Series the most of any non-full-time driver. Through 44 races they’ve collected 25 top-10 finishes, 11 top-five results, and one victory from last weekend.

PERFECT 10: With four races remaining, Sheldon Haudenschild has his eyes set squarely on victory lane. He’s still in the midst of an important battle for the fifth spot in the championship standings with Logan Schuchart, but the Wooster, OH native also wants to hit the 10-win mark for the first time in his World of Outlaws career.

It’s already been a career year for the pilot of the Stenhouse Jr. Marshall Racing, NOS Energy Drink #17, but that doesn’t mean it can’t get better. With crew chief Kyle Ripper, Haudenschild has already made eight visits to victory lane this year at Magnolia (MS), Cotton Bowl (TX), Eldora (OH), Beaver Dam (WI), Williams Grove (PA), I-55 (MO), and Black Hills (SD).

He’ll have four chances to reach 10 wins with Lawton and Devil’s Bowl this weekend and two Features at The Dirt Track at Charlotte on November 4-6.

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